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Benefits of Utthita Parsvakonasana and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self” yoga is a self-healing practice that plays an active role in an individual’s journey towards health. It is a form of mind-body fitness which involves a combination of muscular activity and mindful awareness of self, energy and breath. The practice of yoga was first described in “Yoga Sutras”, classic text by Patanjali, a Hindi author. Yoga has emerged as an effective method to manage several diseases with the practice of asanas and pranayamas. In this article, we will explore the health benefits of one such asana, utthita parsvakonasana.1 

What is Utthita Parsvakonasana? 

Utthita parsvakonasana is a standing side stretch asana in which one knee is at a right angle and the upper arm is stretched above the ear. The name comes from the Sanskrit words; “utthita”, which means extended, “parsva” meaning side, “kona”, which means angle, and “asana”, meaning yoga pose or posture. This translates to an extended side angle pose in English.2 

Utthita Parsvakonasana

How to do it? 

Utthita parsvakonasana must be done correctly for maximum health benefits. Let us now learn about the utthita parsvakonasana steps: 

  • First, stand in tadasana (stand straight with your feet at shoulder level and hands by your side). 
  • Take a deep breath, and with a jump, spread your legs a few feet apart. 
  • Now breathe out and stretch your left leg sideways at ninety-degree to the right leg. Your left leg will be bent at the knee and the left shoulder will be near the left knee in this posture. 
  • Place the left palm on the floor behind the left knee. 
  • Next, raise your right arm sideways; the right arm and right leg will now be in a straight line. 
  • Remain in this position for about thirty seconds to a minute. Breathe deeply and slowly come back to tadasana.2 

Note- it is best to practice any asana empty stomach or a minimum of four hours have elapsed since you had a meal, whichever is sooner. The best time to practice utthita parsvakonasana is early morning, as the body is active and fresh. 

Utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose) is a variation of parsvakonasana (side angle pose) and has many benefits. Practising this asana might improve the flexibility of the spine and provides strength to stomach organs. Some studies show that it might help with constipation.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Do you know? 

  • Parsvakonasana, or side angle pose in yoga, includes a variation of two yoga poses- utthita parsvakonasana and parivrtta parsvakonasana.  Both of these asanas are mentioned in the Iyengar yoga by B.K.S Iyengar, the only difference being in the position of hands. In utthita parsvakonasana, one hand is extended or stretched over the head and the other hand is placed on the floor near the bent leg. In parivrtta parsvakonasana, the hands are in a reversed position which gives a twisting posture. 
  • Parsvakonasana poses are similar to the trikonasana poses, the only difference being that in trikonasana poses, both legs are straight. 
  • Utthita parsvakonasana was first mentioned in the 20th century in Iyengar yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. 
  • Parivritta parsvakonasana is the variation of utthita parsvakonasana, done as a twisting posture.  
  • Trikonasana is a preparatory pose and baddha konasana is the follow-up pose of utthita parsvakonasana. 
  • The practice of utthita parsvakonasana is known to activate the Manipura chakra, which controls energy and improves overall health. 
  • Sunita Choudhary from Jaipur, India, holds the record for the longest performance of utthita parsvakonasana. On 18th August 2018, he performed utthita parsvakonasana for six minutes and one second. 

Based on my observations, I would not recommend practising utthita parsvakonasana to people who have blood pressure issues. Additionally, people with severe spondylitis and headache must avoid practising this asana.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Benefits of Utthita Parsvakonasana:  

Keeping the origin and history in mind, let us now discuss some benefits of utthita parsvakonasana, which will make this asana worth trying. Enlisted below are a few health benefits of utthita parsvakonasana: 

Benefit of Utthita Parsvakonasana in Arthritis 

With advancing age, stiffness and pain in joints are very common, the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints in the body are known as arthritis. B.K.S. Iyengar, in his book “Light on Yoga”, states that the practice of utthita parsvakonasana may help in managing arthritis. Subhadra et al. in 2013, conducted a study that stated that yoga asanas like utthita parsvakonasana may help in reducing pain and improve the quality of life in patients with arthritis. However, it is advised not to consider the practice of utthita parsvakonasana as an alternative to modern medicine and consult your doctor for proper treatment of arthritis. Additionally, you should practice this asana strictly under the guidance of a qualified trainer.2, 3 

Benefit of Utthita Parsvakonasana for Restless leg syndrome  

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a distressing sleep disorder characterized by a compelling urge to move your legs.  Sherman et al. conducted a study in 2019 to assess the effect of yoga asanas on health. The results of this study showed that the practice of Yogasanas like utthita parsvakonasana may help in reducing RLS symptoms and, thus, managing restless syndrome. However, to claim these effects with greater reliability, we will need more studies. It is therefore advised to consult your doctor for the proper treatment of RLS and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, the practice of ardha kurmasana should be strictly done under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Utthita Parsvakonasana for Cardiovascular endurance 

Cardiovascular endurance is how well your heart performs while doing mild to moderate-intensity activities. Caren et al. 2015 conducted a study to assess the effect of yoga interventions on cardiovascular endurance. 12-weeks of the practice of yoga asanas like utthita parsvakonasana positively impacted cardiovascular endurance and improved heart rate. Thus, the practice of utthita parsvakonasana may positively impact cardiovascular endurance, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. So, kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of Utthita Parsvakonasana for Spinal flexibility 

The spine supports the spinal column and neck, and a reduction in spinal flexibility and movement increases muscle spasms and strains. A study was conducted by Grabara et al. in 2015, the results of which showed that the yoga asanas like utthita parsvakonasana may help in making the spinal muscles more flexible and increase the range of motion. Thus, this asana may positively impact spinal flexibility. However, it is recommended not to rely on this asana alone and consult a doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, it is best to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.6 

Other benefits of Utthita Parsvakonasana: 

  • Regularly practising utthita parsvakonasana may help in toning knees, ankles and thighs.2 
  • Doing this asana sincerely may help in reducing the fat around the hips and waist.2 
  • The practice of utthita parsvakonasana increases the contraction of abdominal muscles and may improve digestion.2 
  • It may help in providing relief from sciatica.2 
  • It may help in improving muscular strength and endurance.5 

Note- The benefits mentioned above of utthita parsvakonasana are studied in a limited human population. To ascertain these claims in humans, more studies are required.  

Although the practice of Yoga may help in the development of the mind and body, however, you should not consider yoga as an alternative to modern medicine. It is advised not to rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Kindly consult a qualified doctor for proper treatment. Additionally, any asana practice should be done under the supervision of a qualified trainer. 

Risks of Utthita Parsvakonasana: 

While performing utthita parsvakonasana, caution needs to be taken in the conditions mentioned below: 

  • Pregnant women, children and the elderly, as there is limited data regarding the safety of this asana in these special groups. 

Following are the contraindications of utthita parsvakonasana:7 

  • In case of any surgery, fractures, etc., the practice of utthita parsvakonasana should be avoided. 
  • In the state of exhaustion or illness, avoid the practice of utthita parsvakonasana. 
  • In adverse weather conditions like too cold or too hot climate, avoid the practice of utthita parsvakonasana. 

Conclusion

Utthita Parsvakonasana is a standing side stretch asana in which one knee is at a right angle and the upper arm is stretched above the ear. The name comes from the Sanskrit words “utthita”, which means extended; “parsva” means side, “kona” which means angle, and “asana” meaning yoga pose or posture. This translates to an extended side angle pose in English. The practice of this asana may have a positive impact on restless leg syndrome, arthritis, cardiovascular endurance and spinal flexibility. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the extended side angle pose in yoga? 

Utthita parsvakonasana is known as the extended side angle pose in yoga.2 

2) Which are the utthita parsvakonasana chakras? 

Utthita parsvakonasana targets the Manipura chakra, which is known to control energy in the body.

3) When to do utthita parsvakonasana?

The best time to practice utthita parsvakonasana is early morning as the body is active and fresh.2 

4) Is it safe to practice utthita parsvakonasana in the elderly? 

There is limited information regarding the safety of utthita parsvakonasana in the elderly. It is therefore advised to consult your doctor for proper guidance. 

5) Does utthita parsvakonasana benefit obesity?  

The practices of utthita parsvakonasana are known to reduce hip and waist fat and may help in managing obesity. However, you should not rely on this asana alone and consult your doctor for the proper management of obesity. 

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is only for educational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for medical treatment by any healthcare professional. Because of the unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information provided on this site for the reader’s situation. 

References: 

  1. Catherine. “Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.” International journal of yoga vol. 4, 2 (2011): 49-54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/ 
  1. B.K.S Iyengar. Light on Yoga. The bible of Modern Yoga-Its Philosophy and practice-by the world London: Thorsons.1966; 108-109. Available at:   https://mantrayogameditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Light-on-Yoga_-The-Bible-of-Modern-Yoga-PDFDrive.com-.pdf    
  1. Evans, Subhadra et al. “Impact of Iyengar yoga on quality of life in young women with rheumatoid arthritis.” The Clinical journal of pain vol. 29, 11 (2013): 988-97. doi:10.1097/AJP.0b013e31827da381. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644391/ 
  1. Sherman, K. et al. Acceptability and feasibility of a 12-week yoga vs. educational film program for the management of restless legs syndrome (RLS): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 20, 134 (2019). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-3217-7.  
  1. Lau, Caren et al. “Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM vol. 2015 (2015): 958727. doi:10.1155/2015/958727. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475706/ 
  1. Grabara, Małgorzata, and Janusz Szopa. “Effects of hatha yoga exercises on spine flexibility in women over 50 years old.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 27,2 (2015): 361-5. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.361. available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339138/ 
  1. Ministry, Y.A, Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga practice. Available at: https://yoga.ayush.gov.in/blog?q=58  (Accessed: February 10, 2023).  

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